I read with interest a blog post by Russell Moore, Should I Marry a Man with Pornography Struggles? In his “Questions and Ethics” query, he posted a question from a recently engaged woman who learned that her fiancee has “ongoing struggles with pornography.” She isn’t sure what to do. Dr. Moore offered several helpful insights including:
We all have points of vulnerability, areas of susceptibility to sin and self-destruction. … Wisdom means knowing where those weak points are, recognizing deception for what it is, and warring against ourselves in order to maintain fidelity to Christ and to those God has given us.
I’m neither a licensed counselor nor an ordained pastor. I’m simply a humble bible teacher. I see a lot of hurting marriages and I’d like to weigh in.
While much depends on the nature of the “ongoing struggles,” since sin usually runs deeper than we care to admit to ourselves, my advice to “Engaged and Confused” would be seek help and postpone the wedding until the you can answer yes to two questions.
Genesis teaches that marriage involves 3 commitments:
Genesis 2:24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
- Leaving: making your spouse the most special thing in all creation
- Cleaving: making this commitment permanent, until “death do you part”
- One Life-Experience: committing to sharing your whole life with your spouse and sharing all of your spouse’s life
A man addicted to pornography (or any other substance) is incapable of making that first commitment. Addiction is one of the “4A’s” (addiction, abuse, adultery, abandonment) that typically destroy a marriage and women are too often tempted to play the Savior Card (“I can save him; I can help him; I can change him”). Combining the two is a recipe for divorce. The first year of marriage has enough challenges of its own without adding an addiction/savoir complex to the mix.
I’m not saying Engaged and Confused should leave him. I”m saying postpone the wedding until you can answer “yes” to these two questions:
- Is the pornography addiction/struggle under control enough such that he is capable of making a marriage commitment?
- Is she willing to be the right person for him and do whatever it takes to walk with him through the likely temptations ahead?
If his struggle rises to the level of addiction, it needs to be resolved before the wedding vows. And she should go into her marriage with her eyes wide open, knowing this struggle is likely to be an ongoing battle they must face together.
Fortunately we have a great God who is in the business of saving sinners like us from struggles just like this.